Description of the Temple (Reg VII, Ins 9, 3)
|The Temple of
the Lares Publici
lies immediately to the south of the Macellum on the east side of the Forum. Probably built after the earthquake of AD62,
measures approximately 18 by 21 metres and consists of three sides round
an open central
court. The building has been designated as the sanctuary for the public lares but it may have been dedicated to the deified Augustus.
The date of its construction has been, and
to debate. Initially August Mau (1879) dated the building to a time
after the earthquake of AD62, but subsequently changed his mind based on
the buildings interface with the pre and post 62 walls of the Temple of
Vespasian to the south.
The walls of the sanctuary (the front and back of the rear
wall are pictured top and right) are built in brickwork,
both reticulatum and incertum. What we see today is only rough masonry,
but both walls and floors were originally covered with a veneer of fine
marble. The building itself consists of a large
unroofed court (A) with a large apse (B) occupying most of the
rear wall. The elevation of the rear wall,
pictured below, is a reconstruction by August Mau.
The pre 62 date has been supported by several
authorities including Gradel ('Mamia's Dedication: Emperor and Genius',
1992) and Wallat ('Opus Testaceum in Pomeji', 1993).
the case for dating the buildings construction to after the earthquake
is equally well argued. In his discussion on the building as part of the
Forum Project, John Dobbins proposed that the building could only
have been built after the earthquake of AD62. His argument was based on
the temples structural relationship with contiguous buildings, the
design of the building itself and its positioning with regard to the
forum. While the Macellum (coloured pink in the accompanying graphic),
the Temple of Vespasian (coloured green) and the Building of Eumachia
(coloured blue) all follow the line of the neighbouring streets, the
Temple of the Lares Publici (coloured yellow) was built aligned with the
axis of the
forum. Its construction also blocked off the Vicolo del Balcone Pensile,
which ran along the south side of the Macellum, implying that it was
built at a time when the street layout no longer influenced the design
of the forum.
In the centre of the apse is a socle about 1.8m high on which
stood a shrine with a pedestal for three statues. The socle extended out
in front of the pedestal to provide a table for offerings and laterally
to support two columns and two half columns either side.
north and south sides of the court is an ala (C) which contained a
statue on a raised pedestal. The two entrances were flanked by
pilasters, while each entrance was divided into three parts by two
There were three niches in each of the side walls of the
court and two more at the rear; all were flanked by small pilasters
which rested on a socle about 1.8m above the floor. In the centre of the court is the remains of an altar (D).
the outside of the building is a small podium (E) (shown left)
accessed by means of a short flight of steps. At the edge of the forum are the bases of eight columns of a portico which joined neighbouring porticoes to form the forum colonnade. The area at the rear of the temple
is accessed by way of a door (F) at the west end of the Vicolo del
Balcone Pensile (above).
* Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are
reproduced by permission from their website at
(Su concessione del Ministero per
i Beni e le Attività Culturali:
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di
Napoli e Pompei)